Functional exercises are a great way to stay in shape, especially with the added benefit of training your body in a way that will serve you in your day-to-day life. Functional exercises are exercises that will train and improve the body for activities of daily living. With these exercises, your body will be better equipped to meet the demands of life.
Functional exercises often use or mimic patterns and motions that are used to complete activities of daily living. If you take a look at your body and the movements you make throughout the day, you will often see that they are not strictly one movement, but they are made up of many motions utilizing multiple joints. Functional exercises are exercises that will stimulate the body as a whole, using many muscles and joints, and training them to work together. It is this type of combined movement you will want to incorporate in your exercises.
Why? Well, because that’s the way people move. Many times, injures can happen during these activities of daily living, or ADLs. You’ll move a box, reach for a glass in the cupboard, go down the stairs to do laundry, etc. If you try and pick up something a little heavier than what you have lifted in the past, or move your body a little farther than what it is used to, that’s when an injury might occur. If you train and prepare your body in the same way you use it, and at a level which is above what your normal ADLs have you do, then your body will be up to the task.
As an example of a nonfunctional versus a functional exercise; consider a machine that works your legs by extending or straightening them. This machine is working to strengthen your quadriceps, but how functional is your movement? Do you often find yourself sitting in a chair kicking your legs out? This is probably a rare occurrence. If you were to make the exercise more functional, it would look like a standing squat. This way, you have incorporated the whole body into the exercise, as you are bearing weight on both legs, and are utilizing many more muscles, since they have to support your body. The squat also trains your muscles to work together to keep you balanced. These types of exercises are beneficial for improving your overall fitness as well as your day-to-day activities. Perhaps you will have to squat down to pick up a load of laundry, or pick up dog food from the bottom of the shopping cart. By continuing a regimen of functional exercises, your body will be more prepared for these tasks and less prone to injury.
For more information on functional exercises or to have an exercise program developed specifically to your needs, call Old Towne Physical Therapy at 302-645-0312 to schedule an appointment. Get the most out of your workout by adding functional exercises to your routine.